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Publisher's Summary

  • Includes excerpts of van Gogh's letters to his brother, Theo.
  • Explains the artistic influences and legacy of van Gogh's life and art.
  • Discusses the mysteries and controversies surrounding van Gogh's mental illnesses and death.

"A weaver who has to direct and to interweave a great many little threads has no time to philosophize about it, but rather he is so absorbed in his work that he doesn't think, but acts, and he feels how things must go more than he can explain it." (Vincent van Gogh, 1883)

Vincent van Gogh is undoubtedly one of the most famous artists of all time, and though the critical establishment may not consider him the greatest artist who ever lived, there may be no artist with whom the public has a greater familiarity. Unfortunately, a great deal of that familiarity comes from the circumstances leading up to his death, and the manner in which they have been linked to his painting career.

Of all the things that occurred in van Gogh's tumultuous life and career, the best known thing about him might be that he cut off the lower left lobe of his ear. Much of the general public is familiar with his painting Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear. In 1882, Vincent would hauntingly and somewhat prophetically write to his brother Theo, "What am I in the eyes of most people - a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person - somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then - even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart."

©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors

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